As hurricane season continues to develop, you might hear terminology during a forecast that is foreign to what is usual heard on a severe weather day. Let’s start off with explaining the definition of a tropical depression.
A tropical depression is a developing tropical cyclone with surface winds of 38 mph or less and is not as threatening as tropical storms. However, a tropical storm is stronger than a tropical depression, but not as strong as a hurricane. Wind speeds range from 39 mph to 73 mph with these storms.
The strongest of them all is a hurricane. The most powerful of the three weather systems has sustained surface winds ranging from 74 mph and greater. Hurricanes can cause severe wind damage, extreme flooding from heavy rainfall, and erosion to shorelines from storm surges along coastal areas. Meteorologists rank hurricanes strength in association to their wind speeds with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The weakest storm, a Category 1, has wind speeds ranging from 74 mph to 95 mph. The strongest, a Category 5, has wind speeds greater than 156 mph.
No matter what strength of storm may be heading your way, it’s always important to have a plan in place. Preparing now is the best way to insure your safety in the event of a hurricane. Although there are many more fun terms, such as the Fujiwhara Effect, you can find all the tropical meteorological definitions here. It is best to know and understand all of these terms, especial if you live along a coastal area.